Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century
32 Families Open Their Doors
Winner of the 2014 John Collier Jr. Award Winner of the Jo Anne Stolaroff Cotsen Prize Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century cross-cuts the ranks of important books on social history, consumerism, contemporary culture, the meaning of material culture, domestic architecture, and household ethnoarchaeology. It is a distant cousin of Material World and Hungry Planet in content and style, but represents a blend of rigorous science and photography that these books can claim. Using archaeological approaches to human material culture, this volume offers unprecedented access to the middle-class American home through the kaleidoscopic lens of no-limits photography and many kinds of never-before acquired data about how people actually live their lives at home. Based on a rigorous, nine-year project at UCLA, this book has appeal not only to scientists but also to all people who share intense curiosity about what goes on at home in their neighborhoods. Many who read the book will see their own lives mirrored in these pages and can reflect on how other people cope with their mountains of possessions and other daily challenges. Readers abroad will be equally fascinated by the contrasts between their own kinds of materialism and the typical American experience. The book will interest a range of designers, builders, and architects as well as scholars and students who research various facets of U.S. and global consumerism, cultural history, and economic history.
"This book documents major findings of a brilliantly conceived and executed piece of social science research that speaks to a very wide and diverse audience. Its findings are significant, credible, and provocative. In my opinion, it is one of the most significant social-science projects undertaken in the United States, demonstrating the power of anthropological and archaeological approaches to researching human behavior, whether in a traditional tribal society or in an industrial megalopolis. The discussions are filled with interesting insights that could only have come from a first-hand study of household material culture. The flow of everyday life in relation to places defined by objects provides a refreshing and unique perspective on human behavior. Readers will be drawn in by the lively, well-written, and accessible prose. The images are spectacular because theres nothing else like themin quality, quantity, and especially their unique view of modern family life and household possessions. [This book is] of great significance, not only to the social sciences but also to ongoing policy discussions about what is happening in America." Michael Brian Schiffer, University of Arizona "This is a remarkable, good-natured, and absorbing product of a long-term collaborative research project by a team of UCLA senior scholars and their students from anthropology and archaeology, with the aid of a master photographer, of the everyday lived-in spaces of a select number of households in southern California. They observe closely the mise-en-scene of everyday life in these households--the clutter of "things," the omnipresence of food, the coping with real estate developers' ideas of what a bathroom and a bedroom should be, the accommodation of the increasing presence of digital devices, and much more. A lot of this will be familiar to US readers, even if they did not know it before picking up this book. Indeed, the authors achieve magnificently what anthropology in its ethnographic sensibility is best at doing: making the familiar appear strange by looking closely at it. It engenders a shock of the familiar by directing readers' attention to what they would hardly notice otherwise. Rather than terror, fear, alarm, or pity, it produces amusement, curiosity, and most of all, hope. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries." G. E. Marcus, University of California, Irvine -- review form CHOICE magazine
Jeanne E. Arnold is professor of anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Anthony P. Graesch is assistant professor of anthropology at Connecticut College. Photographer Enzo Ragazzini resides in the Tuscany region of Italy and his work has been featured at exhibitions throughout Europe and North America. Elinor Ochs is UCLA Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Applied Linguistics and served as director of the UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families.